By Maddie Orton
It was the hot mic heard round the world: “…When you’re a star, they let you do it, you can do anything,” said President-elect Donald Trump caught on tape in 2005. “Grab them by the p***y. You can do anything.”
That notorious Access Hollywood tape has become the inspiration for an anti-Trump uniform of sorts. Seas of people in cities across the country — Washington, Trenton, New York, L.A. — will participate in women’s marches this Saturday to protest the president-elect’s inauguration. And many will don eye-catching pink cat beanies courtesy of the Pussyhat Project.
“A lot of women are knitting hats and sending them to Washington,” explained Morristown resident Louise Karger. “There’s a central place that you send them, and then they’ll be distributed at the march. And the women who are sending them are writing little notes. They’re writing ‘Thank you for marching’ or ‘One women’s issue that I really care about is reproductive rights.'”
Morristown residents Paula Barber and Louise Karger had been furious with candidate Trump’s rhetoric, and were only further disappointed by the number of women who voted for the president-elect. So when their weekly knitting group found the Pussyhat Project, it seemed like the perfect way to spin their anger and creativity into a tangible form of protest.
“I just felt I had to do something. And I’m really not a political person,” said Barber. “But I felt this was too major to just say, ‘I’m going to take my ball and go home. The play is too rough. I’m not playing.'”
According the Pussyhat Project website, the group’s mission is to provide marchers with “a unique collective visual statement” to help them “be better heard,” and give people who can’t march “a way to represent themselves and support women’s rights.” There are simple patterns online for crafters to follow, and even a “hat tracker” to map the locations of participants.
“People are knitting hats in France and Germany… and Australia,” said Barber. “It’s beyond the United States. The world is watching.”
Karger said the hats are a way of grabbing the attention of anyone who isn’t watching: “Any movement needs some slogan, some symbols, something to identity the movement.”
“And it’s really hard not to notice this hat,” added Barber.
The women will attend the march in New York City this Saturday. They’ve knit 10 hats between the two of them for friends and family. With numbers like that, it’s no surprise local stores are reporting a run on pink yarn.
“I think that there’s something positive that’s going to come out of this,” Barber said. “I’m guilty of having become complacent, and it was a real wake-up call for me. I’m not going to be complacent any more. I don’t think we can afford to be complacent.”
Barber says the movement won’t stop here. She sees the project galvanizing women’s rights activists into political involvement that will last well after the hats are put away for the spring.